The German Chancellor Angela Merkel has made her first public comments on a spying scandal that has gripped the nation for weeks.
The country’s BND intelligence agency is accused of illegally helping the USA spy on officials and firms in Europe.
The chancellor said it is not acceptable for friendly nations to spy on each other – a reference to the discovery in 2013 that the US National Security Agency (NSA) had been listening in on her own mobile phone.
Merkel did say that spying agencies are necessary however:
“On the other hand, intelligence agencies must be able to work in secret to ensure the public’s safety. The German government will do everything it can to ensure that intelligence agencies are able to carry out their duties. In the face of international terrorism threats, they can only do this in cooperation with other intelligence agencies — and that includes first and foremost the NSA.”
Thomas de Maiziere, who is the interior minister and a close ally of Merkel, is facing calls for his resignation as he denies lying to parliament about Germany’s intelligence cooperation with the NSA.
The comments by the German chancellor will likely do little to settle the storm that these revelations have brought.
In Germany surveillance is a particularly sensitive issue following historical abuses by the Nazi regime and then by the East German Stasi during the Cold War.